Photo by Tim Samuel

Behind every headline, breaking story, and crucial piece of investigative reporting lies a comprehensive trail that shaped the very foundations of our modern society.

Journalism history can be summed up in many parts. Let’s go back in time as we trace the origins and evolution of journalism. Let’s dive deeper into the institution that has been pivotal in understanding the world.

Journalism has always had a noble approach, explicitly uncovering the truth and providing a platform for voices to be heard. With its goal to lead an educated and informed society, journalism plays a considerable role.

From the earliest forms of communication to today’s vibrant media landscape, journalism history is a testament to humanity’s innate curiosity and the power of storytelling. Such an aspect is evident in the book ‘Blind Journey’ by Jack Hawn. It is a book about a journalist with aspiration and adventure like no other in his 43-year writing career.

Information has been meticulously relayed since the beginning of time. In contrast, verbal means were the most well-known and widely used. However, these early civilizations still needed to invent ways to effectively communicate large pieces of information to the masses.

Backtracking journalism through the years

What made journalism what it is today? How did we go from stone tablets to digitally accessible information at our fingertips?

When gathering and transmitting news regularly, we might be reporters ourselves. From oral transmission to the current media we have now, the history of journalism takes us on a fascinating journey. Several people back in the day traveled far and wide to bring news from one land to another, spreading it like wildfire across various towns.

Fast forward to the 20th and 21st centuries, the professional manner of delivering news began with the printing press, which produced newspapers. It was the primary source of information, and it contained factual statements plus juicy gossip that would leave readers in complete shock and trigger a series of speculations.

The Origins of Journalism: an overview

We might take a day at most if we have to go through the complete journalism history in detail. We will tackle a general overview of what transpired over time—the journalist’s role in emphasizing the significance of events and trends circulating in society.

History’s first rough draft might have been from the news-oriented journalism format. Looking back on how past events were written, we could attribute them to the collective efforts of various people who took the time to write down everything that happened. With precision and accuracy, journalism became the backbone of world history.

The speed at which news must be delivered is tight since journalists are pushed to produce articles on short notice. That is why when they say “news travels fast,” it is because these media people have to ensure they are quick enough to deliver fresh news daily. Another purpose is for such information to stay relevant before another one comes along.

The earliest forms of journalism

The oldest known form of journalism in ancient Rome was the Acta Diruna, which recorded significant daily events like public speeches. It was published daily and displayed in public places for everyone to see.

In China, a circular bao, a form of a report, was issued to government officials during the Tang Dynasty. It evolved into different forms until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Meanwhile, in Europe, German cities and Antwerp in Belgium published regular newspapers, which became an official form of information sharing at the time.

The first official English newspaper came to be in the 1600s. The Daily Courant also became the first daily paper published in 1702. However, during the 18th century, governments imposed taxes and censorship restrictions, hindering press freedom.

Public demand for newspapers became more substantial due to the people’s improved literacy, led by the industrial revolution. Electric-driven printing presses drove the speed of publishing daily newspapers.

The Impact of the information age on journalism history

Information plays a role in how people portray an image to each other, especially when taking note of the influence that early media has on the mass population. Because of the low literacy rate, only a few educated individuals get to read newspapers, making it a luxury. However, it began to change when more people had access to education and learned how to read and write.

When news gathering became essential, news agencies and publications rose to power. The technological evolution of journalism resulted in the birth of telegraphs, radio, and television, which became integral elements of journalism.

So whatever information you receive about your environment, it is all thanks to the numerous efforts of the ones who worked hard to gather facts, arrange them accordingly, and deliver them for people to read. Journalism history is packed with exciting aspects that hopefully increase our appreciation. 

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